When it comes to training legs, you can’t go wrong with the leg press machine. It helps you hit the quads, hamstrings and calves with little to no joint stress and has a short learning curve. It also allows you to work higher volume sets as the CNS demand is less than free weight exercises.

Another great option for the lower body is the seated leg extension machine. This exercise isolates the quad muscles by allowing you to start in a seated position with a padded pad resting on your thighs, then contracting the quads to extend your knee and lift your legs up. This exercise can be done bilaterally or unilaterally for better balance between your left and right sides.

The hip abductor and adductor machines in the gym work a very small group of muscles on the inner and outer thigh that should be strengthened to help support and stabilise your core, back and squat movements. However, they can be a bit fatiguing and can cause muscle imbalances when over-trained, so best to focus on squats and deadlifts before using these machines.

Machines are great for beginners or people who struggle to maintain proper form during complex, compound movements like squats, bench presses and deadlifts. They allow you to do higher volume of reps, thereby increasing the amount of muscle built over time. They are also good for working specific muscle groups that tend to lag in strength, such as the calf muscles, which can be targeted through standing calf raises or a seated leg extension machine.

If you’re new to the gym, or just looking for a quick and effective way to build strength and muscle in your legs, these are the best leg exercises to do on your next gym visit. Ideally, you should aim to do all of these exercises first and then top up with some free weight lifts like lunges, squats, hip thrusts or deadlifts to really drive muscle growth.

The leg press is one of the most popular gym machines, and for good reason — it works all major quads, hamstrings and calves muscles. It also doesn’t place much strain on the knees and can be used to train unilaterally for better muscle recruitment. It’s also a good choice for beginners or those with limited mobility, as it allows you to squat down to a low height without compromising form and is safe enough for most lifters to train to failure.

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